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Vol. 78 - No. 9
September 2007

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

The Bridge
                    The collapse of the Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis captured
the attention of the nation recently. We pray for the victims and the anxious families of the missing.
It is terrible to have a loved one suddenly snatched away, and we ask God to comfort and bless those
who are bereaved.
                    Christians look at an event like this and inevitably ask: What are the spiritual lessons we can
learn from it? I’d like to explore that question in this newsletter article.
                    Bridges are rather important for us who live on Long Island. Most of us cross structures like
the Throg’s Neck, the Whitestone, the Triborough with some frequency. Sept. 11, 2001, was a
powerful reminder of how crucial bridges are to us–with the bridges closed that day, it was pretty
much impossible to get off Long Island. So bridges are a vital part of life in our community. And
if we visit Florida or the Carolinas, we may spend a lot of time on the vast bridge across Chesapeake
Bay. So the bridge collapse should be a sobering reminder to us not to take life for granted–a
sobering reminder that unexpected things happen in life, and we need to remain close to God at all
times. Crossing a bridge is an inherently dangerous undertaking. Remember the fairy tale about the
Billy Goats Gruff and the troll who lived beneath the bridge, threatening them as they sought to
cross? No literal trolls live beneath our bridges–but still, traveling over a structure that’s suspended
hundreds of feet above a river is a risky thing. It shouldn’t paralyze us with fear–but it should lead
us to prayer. As we approach the Throg’s Neck or the Whitestone or the Brooklyn bridge, saying
a prayer asking for God to protect us, asking Him to send His angels to guard us, would be a great
way of reminding ourselves that we are always in His hands. So perhaps the first spiritual lesson
to learn from the bridge collapse is simply this: daily life has its dangers. We can’t hide from or
avoid those dangers–so we find our security in knowing that God watches over us.:
                    For He will give His angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways; they
                    will lift you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-
                    12).

                    It’s interesting that bridges aren’t mentioned in the Bible. There were two famous instances
where God’s people came up against large bodies of water and needed a bridge–at the Red Sea,
when the Israelites were escaping Egypt (Exodus 14), and 40 years later at the Jordan River, when
the Israelites were preparing to enter the Holy Land (Joshua 3). In both cases, God made a bridge
for them–he miraculously opened up the waters, so that the Israelites could simply walk across the
bottom of the sea and the river. We might say, then, that God is something of a bridge-builder–He’s
expert at creating a way across a seemingly impassible body of water.
                    What does a bridge do? A bridge connects. A bridge makes it possible to get from one
place to another. And by connecting, a bridge unites. The Brooklyn Bridge is a great example of
this. By spanning the East River and connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn and Long Island, it spurred
the union of five boroughs into a single city. Had the bridge never been built, it’s conceivable that
the five boroughs would have remained separate cities.
                    Jesus is like a bridge. He connects. He unites. We are separated from God by a great
chasm. It’s the vast gulf that separates the Creator from the creature. And that gulf is made even
more vast by the fact that we are sinners–we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”
(Romans 5:23).
We are separated from God–and we need a bridge. We need a bridge to connect
and unite. It has to be a vast bridge. Greater than the Brooklyn Bridge. Greater, even, than the
bridge across Chesapeake Bay, or the causeway across Lake Ponchertrain in New Orleans. We need
a bridge that will span heaven and earth, a bridge that will connect sinful man and holy God. We
need a big bridge.
                    That big bridge comes to us in the form of a tiny baby laid in a manger. And that big bridge
is supported, not by a sophisticated suspension system, but by two rude boards nailed together to
make a cross. But that bridge will never collapse, because it’s already gone through death and has
come back to life again. Our bridge is Jesus–born for us, crucified for us, risen for us. It is He who
connects us with God, unites us with God.
                    I said there were no bridges in the Bible–but in a way, there is at least one. It’s not a bridge
that goes horizontally across a river–it’s a vertical bridge that goes upward toward heaven. It’s
called Jacob’s ladder. Jacob sees it in a vision–a ladder that goes from heaven to earth, with the
angels of God ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12). And this vision finds its real
fulfillment in Jesus the Saviour, who said to Nathanael: “You will see heaven opened, and the
angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51).
Jesus is both God
and man–therefore He spans the chasm between the creator and the creature. And Jesus died to take
away our sins–so He bridges the gap between us sinners and the righteous and holy God. Our “E-Z
Pass” to heaven is through faith in the Lord who died for us and rose again!
                    Continue to pray for the people in Minneapolis. And draw from this event two important
spiritual lessons: first, that life has risks and that we thus must always place ourselves trustingly in
the hands of God; and second, that we sinners need a bridge to God, and we have one in the crucified
and risen Christ!
                    God loves you and so do I!

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